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Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze Watch Hands-On

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Pre-WWII chronographs built by Minerva are among some of the most criminally underrated vintage watches of that particular era, so it should come as no surprise that with Montblanc’s purchase of the Villeret-based manufactory in 2004, we’d see plenty of subsequent visits to the archives, as well as implementation in Montblanc’s modern offerings. This has been executed in various forms to great effect – including the stainless steel 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter introduced in 2016, but what we hadn’t seen done until now at Montblanc on a brand level, is any execution in bronze. Revealed at SIHH 2017, the Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze follows the execution of its 2016 predecessor – a vintage-inspired monopusher chronograph done in bronze.

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

All images by Ariel Adams

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

This time around, we’re treated with a few new tweaks around the same manually-wound movement characterized by its bi-compax dial layout. Most notably, the case is now rendered in a satin-polished bronze – another signal that the ‘bronze age’ trend in watchmaking is still carrying some steam. And, while most might argue that the marine-grade alloy is best reserved for dive watches like the Tudor Black Bay Bronze, the case material has also seen enough success with other race and aviation-themed watches, like the Zenith Pilot ‘Extra Special’ line (whose Type 20 Chronograph we went hands-on with earlier this year), so it should come as little surprise that Montblanc seeks to add its own unique patina to the mix. Better late than never, right?

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The new 1858 Chronograph (named so in observation of Minerva’s founding year) case gets a few aesthetic tweaks as well; particularly a new champagne-colored sunray dial, which is a treat in ‘just’ the right light, while complementing the warm, vintage aesthetic of the bronze case. The luminous cathedral-shaped hour/minute handset and the arrow-shaped chronograph hands also channel the vintage vibe to a tee, but where the watch starts to lose points against the source material comes in its admittedly ‘very’ modern 44mm case. It doesn’t wear overly large, however, and the neutral, earthy tones of the bronze and the dial mute those proportions somewhat. It’s fitted to a tan crocodile leather strap with eggshell-colored stitching, which complements the bronze and champagne hues beautifully.

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Bronze is powered by the MB M16.29, which is a fully in-house manufactured column wheel movement designed to mimic the behavior of the 17.29 pocket chronograph movement, a Minerva-portfolio caliber which dates to the early 1930s. However, the modern M16.29 is similar only in actuating behavior to its inspiration – the movement is home to some otherwise extensive modifications which contribute to the back of the watch being the real star of the show.

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

At first glance, it’s the unique horizontal coupling and V-shaped chronograph bridge that catches the eye, but a closer examination reveals some downright impressive color-matching to the components themselves. Select bridges are in fact, rose gold-plated, yielding a level of cohesion (front and back) and contrast that’s otherwise unheard of at this price point. It’s also a great visual example of how Montblanc’s investment in Minerva has brought out the very best in both names – and nobody wins more than watch fans.

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

On the chronometric front, the movement itself hums at a relatively low 18,000bph, but it’s a rate that grants a generous 50 hour power reserve. Like the traditional pocket watch chronograph calibers upon which it’s based, all three actuating functions (start, stop and reset) of the 1858 Chronograph are performed by the single pusher at 3:00. It makes for a slightly elongated crown length, but it also removes the pair of typically present pushers, yielding the cleanest possible case design for a chronograph.

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Once cased, the movement also undergoes Montblanc’s Laboratory Test 500 process, a rigorous, three-week ‘torture test’ of sorts designed to simulate the first year of the watch’s life, and ensure things are running exactly to spec before being delivered to the wrist. Montblanc is far from the first brand to do this – Omega has its ‘Master Chronometer’ certification, and Montblanc’s own big brother Jaeger LeCoultre has a 1000 Hours Test, for example, but even still – it’s reassuring to note that Montblanc stands behinds its in-house developed calibers.

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Bronze Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The 44mm size of the watch is likely to be its most divisive feature – which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. However, with the movement measuring a few hairs under 40mm (it was a pocket watch movement, after all), the choice behind the case size appears to be one made out of necessity, and not the passing trend. Montblanc will only be producing 50 pieces of this very limited edition. Fans and collectors can scoop one up for the asking price of €27,500. montblanc.com

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Comments

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  • Sheez Gagoo

    Nice watch. Not a bronze fan. Don’t understand why they killed the Minerva brand.

    • Mikita

      Indeed, Minera brand has some strong watchmaking heritage, yet they killed it and use Mont-?-Blanc, wallet-scarf-handbag makers.

      • Sheez Gagoo

        Don’t forget the fountain pens.

        • Mikita

          Oh, yes. I had one. Surprisingly, didn’t get used to it.

          • Sheez Gagoo

            They’re huge.

          • JosephWelke

            Depends. They make some standard sized ones, and for their Mozart collection they’re kinda small.

          • #The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

            Yuuge

  • IG

    Kinda monochromatic design. Nice movement.

  • Mikita

    Huge fan of the movement, but even it can’t justify the hefty $33k price tag. Fully agree with Sheez Gagoo – Richemont Group could have made (reviced?) a serious haute horlogerie brand with Minerva, yet they stick to Montblanc. The logo itself looks like Mont-(pile of crap)-blanc.

    • Radium head

      Yup ….. Wow

    • egznyc

      That movement is quite beautiful and big! Too bad the sundials couldn’t be slightly larger on the face. Still, I like. But no way am I going to buy.

  • Tea Hound

    Gorgeous and near perfect, except for the price, and the odd Mont-?Blanc logo.

  • Radium head

    Could be pre-emptive strike By Richemont knowing full well this is a wrist turd at $33,000 paid homage to the over priced fact in the name crest. LOL
    In all seriousness at a more reasonable price point and a little change in graphics I would be very interested in this.

  • Framlucasse

    I assume the retro design and 1858 name is here to show the old history of Monblanc watches.
    Since 1997.

  • Yan Fin

    The old logo was the major likable thing about Montblanc.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    How dull and and completely uninteresting. Stick to pens .

    • Radium head

      Oh come on Raymond tell us how you really feel. It actually is a very nice piece.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Bronze…………….dull
        Dial………………….dull
        Part numbers……dull
        Brown strap………dull
        Monochrome…….dull
        Tachymeter……….Why ?
        Knob on onion…..Why ?
        Price………………..Ridiculous.

        • Radium head

          Dam I guess it’s just another case of coulda woulda shoulda

          • IanE

            Or perhaps, a matter of taste!

          • Raymond Wilkie

            I would rather my onion wasn’t knobby.

        • Tea Hound

          I’ve put you down as a ‘maybe’.

        • Sheez Gagoo

          The knob on the onion is the chrono pusher. Single button. And the movement is spectacularly beautifull. Worth every Euro.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            I don’t like a knob on my onion.

          • Sheez Gagoo

            I had Heuer army chrono single button pocket watch. Knobs belong on onions in case of handwound single buttons.

          • Sheez Gagoo

            …and by the way: You asked why there`s a knob on the onion.

    • IanE

      I rather agree, Raymond, though the original stainless steel one was (to my eyes) a stunner. I wish Montblanc had released a second batch of those!

  • SuperStrapper

    Quite unique in many aspects. The almost monochromatic appearance with an absense of black or white is not a design choice you see very often. Bronze as a material on a watch like this is also a rarity.

    The movement is very lovely and hints to both its classic lineage and it’s contemporary sport in horology today.

    Still not a fan of monopusher chronographs and I think this look would have been complimented by dedicated pushers. But I always think that with monos.

    Understanding that most of the caseback is a sapphire (nice to see on a 44mm watch) but is the metalon the caseback also bronze? Normally a stainless material is chosen for the caseback of bronze and brass watches and I wonder if that ring is actually bronze.

    This was a nice look. The strap needs an update though.

    • cluedog12

      Remember reading that the ring was titanium.

      • SuperStrapper

        That would make sense. It looks colour matched and often on bronze watches the back is steel or Ti, but in its naked form. Colour matching with a pvd process is a nice touch.

  • William McKinley Ryan

    I like it. Wouldn’t pay 30k for it, but it’s beautiful. The hands are a bit busy, personally I like the old style font “Mont Blanc”. Crown is a nice detail, imo…

  • BNABOD

    I liked the steel version better and slightly cheaper at ahem 26k but what is the price of a nice vintage Minerva using that same movement ?

  • Mark1884

    I like the style, but dump that horrible corroding bronze case!! I will never understand why anyone would want/buy/wear a bronze cased watch??
    Other than that small criticism, the price is just ridiculous.

    • egznyc

      Maybe they made an error and this is actually a gold case – would explain that exorbitant price at least somewhat ;-).

      • Mark1884

        If the case is gold, count me in!!

  • Omegaboy

    Was thinking they should char the edges of the dial, make it look like an old map.

  • DanW94

    Lovely watch. The polished bronze case is subtle and works so well with the muted tones of the dial. Great looking movement also. All in all, an attractive package.

    • egznyc

      … other than the price. (I for one would like to think they’ve erred and it’s really a gold case heh heh.)

  • Ranchracer

    Not a fan of the bronze case fad, and the antique/baroque look isn’t really my thing, but that movement…Wow! And I like the monopusher format. Will own an mp one of these days, but not one that costs more than many cars.

  • Mischa

    What a thing of beauty. Over the years, Montblanc really are coming up with impressive designs at very attractive prices. Sadly, that last bit doesn’t apply in this case, or I’d be rushing to secure one.

  • Can’t make any comments about a small movement in a large case for this one………

  • Spangles

    Zach, Ariel, David,

    Over on other watch forums, it’s been noted that the movement finishing on this watch is a step above Patek Phillippe. Yes, a moderator of the PP forum on watchprosite told me that. It’s a huge deal and makes this watch a prize for “those in the know”.

    I think a major area for ABTW to improve is commentary on movement finishing. It would add a lot to the articles on higher end watches and give more knowledge to the readers.

    • Framlucasse

      It is obvious that the movement is very well decorated, yes. But even considering this, the price should be the 1/3 of the acual price.

    • Ariel Adams

      Sure, good points.

    • aRIdd aRid

      Look AT Those Edge Finishing , I Felt Like Enjoying The View of ( Philippe Dufour Simplicity ) and Every Single of The Gear . Lets Put Aside ” MontBlanc ” Take a Depth Look Into The Case ! I love it One of My Favorite So Far !

  • John Stevens

    Love the retro, baroque style of this watch and the bronze lends itself to this. Apparently bronze can develop quite different patinas over time, not sure if there are different types of sweat but it would be interesting to see what some of these bronze watches will look like 10 years in.

  • Ulysses31

    That movement is stunning. The dial side by comparison is bland, like khaki pants.

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